Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Palace: Theatre of Crud begins tomorrow and concludes March 7

A sneak peek at The Palace: Theatre of Crud, Chapter 7

Why's it hard for people to call The Palace a webcomic? I've seen it referred to as a "skit"(*) and a "graphic novel," and it's neither. It just goes to show how new to the lexicon "webcomic" is, even though there's like millions of webcomics.

(*) A pet peeve of mine is the misuse of the word "skit." That's the most misused word outside of "socialist." A skit is some lame, amateurish thing kids perform at a summer camp or church. That's why that comedy festival in San Francisco is called SF Sketchfest, not SF Skitfest. Yet people still describe the sketches on shows like Python, Chappelle's Show, Mr. Show, Human Giant and HBO's new Funny or Die Presents as skits (as if the professional comedian/writers who crafted the sketches are still in fifth grade and eating their boogers). Those people are full of skit.

On Javiland, host Javier Hernandez asked me if I planned to compile all the Palace strips for a book. I told him that's always been my plan. I always approached The Palace as if I were drawing it for newspapers or print, except I'm tossing in some language that cartoonists can't get away with in newspaper strips. (I'd like to give the book a really absurd title like either The Palace: The Complete Jazillionth Season Box Set, The Palace: Let's Count How Many Times Bella Touches Her Hair--because if you tack "Bella" or "Edward" onto the name of anything these days, it'll likely make a dime--or The Palace: It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown, which I probably can't use because I don't want Charles M. Schulz's estate on my ass.)

After I took part in that Javiland roundtable, I've realized if you're going to put together a book full of preexisting content that readers can easily see for free on the Web, you ought to add to the book some extra content that's exclusive to the compilation and has never appeared before in your webcomic. This new content would either be the original blog posts that inspired some of the strips (like the post about the racist camera by "jozjozjoz," whom I'd ask permission to reprint), preliminary blue pencil drawings (personally, I think The Palace looks better in blue pencil, before I redraw it in ink on a tracing pad), strips that I scripted or drew but decided to toss into the trash bin or a never-before-posted strip that I'd like to get a special guest illustrator to draw.

I always wanted to get special guest artists to draw The Palace for me like how Greg Rucka enlists different artists to interpret Queen & Country (or how Harvey Pekar does the same thing with American Splendor). I never wanted to draw The Palace. (Sometimes I wish I never chose a movie palace as the webcomic's primary setting. I don't like putting much detail into the background on the panel--I prefer to make The Palace look as minimalist as the single-panel strips I grew up reading--and a movie palace is an ornate setting that calls for all sorts of details in the background.)

But because I don't know any cartoonists around my hood, and I wouldn't have enough coin to pay one to pencil and ink The Palace, I've had to draw the webcomic myself, even though I've had very little drawing experience, and the only art training I've had is some watercolor class that I took at an art supplies store when I was in sixth or seventh grade.

This is the longest and most exhausting arc I've worked on so far. All 14 strips of the Theatre of Crud arc, which would be included in the book if I go through with it, are single-panel. On Javiland, I was asked why I like the single-panel format. I said writing single-panel gags is difficult, yet I prefer that format because I have a habit of overwriting, and with single panels, I have to learn to be succinct. I wish I added to the Javiland discussion that multiple-panel strips are easy to write but hard to draw, while single-panel strips are hard to write but easy to draw.

As with all other arcs of The Palace, I'll be posting one strip per day here on this blog. I don't know how I'll be able to post a strip per day when my cable modem keeps cutting me off from the Internet every few minutes. That cable modem is the crappiest thing Comcast has concocted since Sunset Tan.

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